Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A note on Seance

It's likely I won't see City Opera's NYC premiere production of Stephen Schwartz's Seance on a Wet Afternoon (ending this weekend). A reader did send this report:
I thought the sets for S√ČANCE was excellent, and the singers were enthusiastic, but the work suffered from the fact that Schwartz also wrote the libretto, and it probably would have been more successful as a one-act. I like an evil female protagonist, but if you have one it's a good idea for the opera to end promptly once she does the deed. Instead Schwartz tests audience sympathy with a prolonged ghoulish and sentimental denouement. The staging of the finale brought to mind the Zimmerman "Lucia" but instead of the triumphant tragic love of a skittish virgin bride, it is that of a clingy mom.
Mark Adamo's contemporary dual-threat success doesn't change the overall history of composers' libretto attempts letting down their own music.

It's been a strange year at NYCO, neither popular nor particularly ambitious. There were, of course, budget issues, but if the new administration has a coherent and memorable vision for the place, it hasn't appeared yet. Nor, in fact, has next season's lineup -- except for the Rufus Wainwright announcement.

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Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.